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Nile is a brutal death metal band from Greensberg, South Carolina that formed in 1993. The single handily created their own style of brutal death metal music by combining extreme speed and nihilism with ancient styles of Middle Eastern music. Thus the band made what they like to call Ithyphallic Metal. Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka is the bands first album on a major label (specifically Relapse Records), with only having a local produced album, Festivals of Atonement and an EP, Ramses Bringer Of War. Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka is fueled with Egyptian themes, imagery, and Middle Eastern music, factors that separate Nile from other death metal bands. With unapologetic brutality, Nile also decided to experiment with chanting, percussion, gongs, and flutes, which are all found on this album, and are used to offset quiet and loud throughout. Although the album is a standout release and a certain must for any Nile fans or death metal fans in general, the album lacks the epic and progressive feel that the band later establishes with albums such as Annihilation Of The Wicked. Clocking at only 33 minutes and 7 seconds, by the time I got into the progressive power of the album, it was over.
The album kicks off immediately with Smashing The Antiu, with dense layers of riffs and vicious roaring from Karl Sanders, it almost sounds like the listener came in half way through the song. The track is very short, and is fueled with bellows and grunts and guitar solos along with some very atmospheric riffs. A good song to show the brutality of Nile, but it ends before one could even really get into the insanity of the song (which is why I look at this to have some influence of grindcore). Barra Edinazzu begins with the same fury as the previous track, the only difference are the more noticeable breakdowns snuck into the fury of heavy riffs and punishing blast beats with hellish vocals. A step up from the previous track, with a lot more groove and solo along with a flute played in the background and keyboard backdrop. The next track is the first to truly show some of Nile's unique musical styles, and it comes in the form of a filler track. Kudurru Maglu is an atmospheric track which gives the listener some distinct imagery. In my opinion, it gives me an image of an Egyptian sacrifice, partially due to the ominous chanting throughout the short, dark track.
Serpent Headed Mask begins with some furious riffage and heavy pounding on the drum. There is a lot of thrash influence found in this song, mixed in with the chugging riffs, blast beats, and dominating bellows. The song has a dark breakdown which goes into some haunting chanting followed by some more heavy riffs. The first brutal Nile song to feature atmospheric breakdown, and thankfully not the last as the song is over all to quickly (2 minutes and 18 seconds, just like the first track). The first real stand out track on the album is Ramses Bringer Of War. The song begins with ascending atmospheric are drums and keyboard orchestration in the backdrop. The song definitely sounds like a war, for after the amazing intro, some heavy riffs come in to give the battle sounds a more dynamic feel. It truly becomes a battle as the instruments from each band member struggle for air in the sudden fury that takes over the atmosphere. The song has some great chugging riffs and guitar solos, and manages to stand out while still sounding like most of the other tracks on the album.
Another atmospheric song is Stones Of Sorrow, which has some powerful, doom-esque opening riffs and more tribal drums along with keyboard backdrop and chimes. The song then bursts into some blast beats and brutal grunting. Probably the most atmospheric song on the album, the song has some powerful dynamics and breakdowns. Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche is another filler track, but it is a lot longer then a normal filler (clocking at 3 minutes and 13 seconds), the track has some haunting tribal chants, and a sense of unholy divinity in it's atmosphere. Karl Sanders comes in and provides some grunting chants in the back ground about half way through the song. A great track to listen to even though it is not a typical Nile song. The Howling Of The Jinn is another brutal onslaught of sheer speed and and fury. The song has some great guitar riffs and death metal vocals and a lot of haunting backdrop samples. More straightforward then most of the recent tracks before it, but still a solid track none the less.
Probably the most shortest death metal track I have ever heard, Pestilence And Iniquity is a little less then 2 minutes of sheer speed and mayhem. The track is also the most easily compared to grindcore due to it's short length and unforgiving assault of loud guitar riffs and heavy blast beats and drum rolls. Opening Of The Mouth opens up with some low bass backdrop and a flute playing a harmonic melody. The song then bursts into some heavy riffs and Karl Sanders' brutal screams. The song has a very haunting feel to it and some very dynamic riffage, guitar solos, and blast beats. The song even has a conga breakdown, though it is quickly interrupted by demented grunts and heavy riffs. One of the better songs on the album and overall great track. The last track,Beneath Eternal Oceans Of Sand both begins and ends with very soft, melodic guitar strums. The song then bursts into more typical Nile style riffs and growls and blast beats. The song has a much denser atmosphere then some of the previous tracks, and has some more melodic guitar work in it's breakdowns near the end, before finally descending into silence as the album ends. Overall it's a great album, but it has it's noticeable flaws that separate it from other Nile albums.
THIS WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC.COM